Being a dad isn’t easy, but being a stay-at-home father is way difficult. With society’s traditional (and rather pressuring) expectations, dads are supposed to be at work while mums are the ones in charge at home. Still, more and more fathers nowadays are embracing the role of a stay-at-home dad. But as much as you can watch your kids grow, this task isn’t a bed of roses. Stay at home dad burnout will eventually occur.
One of the main reasons for this is that stay at home dads face a different kind of guilt. As someone who has been an at-home dad, I’ve seen the reality of how it works at home. Aside from the chores that I need to finish and four little humans I have to take care of, it’s the judging eyes of other people that really hit me.
At the back of my mind, I was always on the edge of giving up and just going back to my usual 9 to 5 work setup. Being an at-home dad is unconventional, at least in the eyes of some. But if you ever find yourself extremely tired, slumped on the sofa, and with a beer in hand at 10 am, these seven self-care tips will help a lot.
It’s okay to ask for help
Being an at-home dad isn’t a black and white concept. Just because your wife is working and you’re in charge at home doesn’t mean there would be a segregation of duties. If you feel burned out, you can sit with your wife, talk about your struggles, and help each other find a solution.
Don’t hesitate to tell your wife or partner what bothers you. Who knows, you may only need a house help or a nanny to help ease your workload at home.
Asking for help doesn’t make you less of a dad or less of a man, for that matter. You can still be a superdad with extra hands to help get things done.
Establish a new routine
Being an at-home dad can be messy, chaotic, and insane. To keep a straight head, I recommend that you come up with a new routine. That way, you can also free up time for your self.
Schedule what time you’re going to wake up, what chores you need to do, and other recurring tasks. By staying organized, you can save more time and prevent losing your sanity.
Over time, you will get used to your routine, and it will be easier for you to accomplish chores. And if this routine gets tiring, you can mix things up again.
Find a support system
At-home dads need a support system as much as at-home mums do. Many stay at home dads complain of isolation, judgment from other people, and insecurity. To help you get through these problems, you can connect with other at-home dads. It could be within your community or an online organization.
Facebook groups like the UK-based Stay at Home Dads have thousands of fathers who are sharing tips and advice on how to survive being in charge at home.
It’s also advisable to connect to mums. You can ask for advice from your partner’s friends so you can see parenting from the point of view of mothers. Your wife/partner will also offer a lot of insights.
You deserve some me-time
With four kids at home, I know how mentally exhausting being an at-home dad is. Just imagine all of them shrieking, running around, crying, and putting objects in their mouths while you try to get through the morning rush.
Just like other chores, you should schedule a mental break for self-care. You can talk to your wife about it so you can schedule your own relaxation during her day-off.
Being an at-home dad is like being a soldier caught in the crossfire. Sometimes, you need to crawl back to your base to load your ammo and compose your self.
You don’t have to stay home all the time
Just because you’re an at-home dad doesn’t mean you need to isolate your self inside the house. Once you brought the kids to school and finished some chores, you should go out and relax. You can head to a café to get a cuppa or the park for a breath of fresh air.
These short trips outdoors will help ease your stress. It also gives you something to look forward to each day. You can even join a club or organization that offers recreational classes and activities.
As much as possible, spend your free time outdoors so you won’t feel stuck at home.
Don’t punish yourself
At the time when I was an at-home dad, I talked to fellow fathers, and one thing I noticed is that they punish their selves with parenting expectations. I was also guilty about this, too, and it’s something that will eat away your self-confidence.
There’s no perfect parent, so don’t be too hard on yourself for not making good-looking pigtails on your daughter or if your son doesn’t like the taste of your omelets. Simply trying, caring, and being present is more than enough to be a responsible dad. No dad should be judged by the unrealistic expectations of those who haven’t been in the same position as we do.
Remember: this is not forever
Lastly, keep in mind that this isn’t forever. Some of us choose to stay home to look after a sick child, to compromise with the current work demands of our partners, or to simply become a hands-on father.
Diaper changes will end, snotty noses will dry, and screams will become full conversations. You just have to savor every moment and learn from the experience. By the time your kids are all grown up, you will look back and be proud of your self.
Stay at home dad burnout is common, and there are workarounds to prevent and combat this problem. Don’t forget that despite all the chores that have to be done, you also need to take care of your self. Taking a break and asking for help aren’t mortal sins.